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The last months have changed our lives in an unprecedented way. We have lived a slow life, a life short of direct human contact. Travelling has become a rare activity and, outside of one's own country, often impossible. Cities, usually awash with motored vehicles, have opened up into spaces for pedestrians and cyclists. Universities and schools switched to online teaching almost immediately. Pollution levels are dropping fast. I feel as if I lived in a prison, but in a very comfortable one. That much for now. And 'now' can still last quite a while, mind you.
But what about the post-COVID-19 days? Will the past months look in hindsight like a bizarre intermezzo and will 'normalcy' reign again? Or will the corona experience whet our appetite for a 'new normal'. Might we even have learned some lessons and could we find smarter ways of living, working, learning and moving in the future? It is a worthwhile consideration for all sectors of life, but particularly for our own, international higher education.
A first glance suggests that higher education institutions leap-frogged into digitalisation. We do not yet know at which levels of quality and with which learning outcomes. But the ease of the switch to the virtual makes one wonder if online education will become the new default mode. Especially in the case of study abroad. Will physical mobility, of students and of faculty, become an outmoded form of study? Will we still fly in the thousands to the other end of the world to attend a conference that we might also attend in front of our computer screens? It would be cheaper, more environment-friendly and it would save us time. Will we still need offices at all? Has the virus not demonstrated that we can (almost) all work and even 'meet' from home. Tempting prospects: falling real estate prices, reduced traffic - especially at peak hours, a healthier environment.
It is to answer questions like those above and many others that ACA has started The World after COVID-19, a series of 'think pieces' devoted to the world after COVID-19. The first think piece came out on Tuesday 12 May and was authored by Eva Egron-Polak. On the Tuesdays since, ‘think pieces’ by Sir Peter Scott and by Lesley and Dilys Wilson appeared. Next Tuesday, the author will be Sijbolt Noorda.
Eva Egron Polak's piece is available here.
Sir Peter Scott's piece is available here.
Lesley and Dilys Wilson's piece is available here.